So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Could it be that the church fire was a good thing? Perhaps a blessing to me, to my children?
The previous post sparked some interesting debate in the comments section on the sovereignty of God and the free will of men. And in following that rabbit trail of logic this occurs to me...
I have learned a few things. I have learned things about myself, about my children, about my Lord. I have learned who my children really are and what they need from me for them to grow closer to God. I have learned that I am a foolish man who thinks much too highly of himself. And I have found the more I rely on God the stronger I am.
Background: My mentally handicapped child was left alone. He started listening to whispers in the dark. He played with fire. By 2:00 a.m. the police were handcuffing him in my living room.
The sanctuary where my wife and I renewed our wedding vows, the baptistry where my children proclaimed their acceptance of Jesus as messiah and creator, the place where a memorial service was held for my first child, was a charred shell, awaiting clean up, insurance estimators, and demolition.
Could it be a good thing?
Look what it forced me to do. My eyes have been opened to who my children are, truly are. I work diligently with them now, instructing them in my faith, in how to pray and how to draw closer to God. I am a fiercer advocate for them at school because I know precisely where they need help (from counseling and testing). I am helping them to engage with the world in healthy ways.
I have seen more clearly the struggles of my wife and what I need to being doing to help her. She needs to know how much I love her. I’m finding new ways to show her. I rub her feet, I give her times of solitude, I anoint her with oil, I treat her tenderly. I pray for her each night.
I have become more reliant on God, realizing that there is nothing truly under my control, that obedience is the only commodity I have to offer my Lord.
And there is my prayer life. I pray much more than ever before. Sometimes, while I am walking the track and praying at lunch, I have to contain myself because I feel such joy while praying that I want to throw my hands up, dance about, (That would certainly distract the students in the classrooms that look out onto the athletic field!)
I place myself at His service. I know now that I cannot control my own fate, and I never could.
It sounds like a twelve step program where the addict states that he is not in control of his vice and that only through a higher power can he be saved. I am such an addict. I am addicted to sin. I keep thinking that it is all about me, that I am important, that what I think or say or feel is what matters, is more important than anything else, even His will.
I’ve been trying to control what was uncontrollable, and it is no wonder that I have been frustrated with the results.
Could it be that the church fire has been good for me?
My son says that he kept hearing a voice. It was telling him to play with fire. That it was bright, and pretty, and good to see. He isn’t schizophrenic (according to the in-depth evaluation). But he heard a whisper telling him to do things he knew were wrong.
That fire placed so much of what I held as my area of authority into the hands of others. My home, my children, my parenting, are scrutinized by other authorities. The fire marshall, the district attorney, even psychologists and counselors’ words have great weight in what happens in my home, in my family.
Could it be that the church fire was a good thing?
Some feel that God is in control of all things.
Some feel that God causes all things to happen.
1. God is in control.
2. There is an evil force that acts against our Lord.
I’m unsure how to reconcile this antimony, but I know that no matter how bad things get, no matter how screwed up life is, He can make good of it.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." --Romans 8:28
I have been a proud man. My father didn’t graduate high school and I have a master’s degree. I like that. I love to read and have made myself a wealth of useless information. I kind of like that too. But I have been humbled, and to my surprise, I like that as well.
You see, I have found that as I admit how weak I am, how little control over my life I have, the stronger I feel!
There have been times when life has knocked me flat. I mean really knocked me flat. Regular readers are aware of some of those times.
But today I feel something different. I feel that when I was laid low someone came along side me and placed a strong, gentle hand on my arm. I was helped to my knees, to my feet. That hand steadied me, helped me to walk along a stony path, guided me. And oh my, has my gait changed! I went from a shambling walk in the shadows of a deep canyon to dancing along, praising my Lord.
Oh sure, things still... well, suck. But that heavy load that I have been carrying, well my big brother’s got it!
I could provide a litany of things that need my attention, that concern me, that are within my responsibility to guide and repair and supervise. But when I give those burdens to my Lord (not shirking the responsibility, but relinquishing the eventual outcome) I find my feet doing something different.
Instead of shambling, I am dancing. There is a skip in my heart, in my soul, that finds its way into my feet. I suspect that this dance will grow the more I learn that I have nothing truly in my control. I suspect that as I continue, this awkward shuffling dance will grow into a full fledged frenzy of praise. I am currently like some middle school boy, unsure of how to make his suddenly large feet keep time at his first dance. But by the time my Lord invites me home I think I will be dancing the way King David did before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:12-15), with wild abandon.
So, I think the church fire may have become a good thing. I was humbled, and that is a good thing. I learned who my kids truly are, and that is good. I have learned to pray more, and to care more for my wife, and to love others more, and all those are good things. I have discovered that the smaller I am, the stronger I am.
The fire was not good in itself. Satan was at work there, slithering his way into my son, into my family, into my church. But I also know that my Lord God has the final word in all things and that no matter what bad the Deceiver brings about... God works for the good of those who love Him.
So, to the point of this post. I wanted to just say, that though my back is out, and my fingers are bleeding, and though my children demand more of me than ever before, I am filled with a joy that I can hardly contain. I am so eager to sing the praises of my Lord God! I am so happy to be alive. I am so grateful and... maybe if it took an outrageous attack by a force of evil to put me in this place, then there is more going on than meets the eye.
I must be following the right shepherd.
Jesus lead on, I will follow!